How the Ford EcoSport's rear shelf weighs just 6 pounds but can support 700

The secret is a recycled-paper honeycomb design.

Mention the concept of a honey bee to a car enthusiast (or at least those of a certain age), and Dodge's Super Bee muscle car of the late 1960s or Datsun's (now Nissan) short-lived yellow-and-black "Honey Bee" B-210 of the 1970s may come to mind. These days, though, Ford's taking a more utilitarian (and less colorful) approach to the buzzy idea. In this case, it's all about keeping the storage area of its EcoSport compact SUV as light and strong as possible.

The Blue Oval, which is preparing bring its EcoSport compact SUV to the States, says that it will use the "honeycomb" design to keep the vehicle light while allowing for plenty of protection for whatever goods are being hauled out back. Specifically, the EcoSport will have an approximately three-foot-by-two-foot rear shelf that can be placed in one of four positions and will weigh all of six pounds while supporting almost 700 pounds of weight without cracking. That's because Ford has reinforced the shelf with 100-percent recycled paper — held together with water-based glue reinforced with resin — with a hexagonal design that replicates that of the mighty honeycomb.

Ford, whose EcoSport is its best-selling compact SUV overseas, unveiled a concept version of the US-bound version at the Los Angeles Auto Show last November. The automaker said at the time that the model will come in either a 1.0-liter turbocharged three-cylinder front-wheel-drive variant or a 2.0-liter four-cylinder all-wheel-drive version when it arrives in the States. The EcoSport will also come in four trims, though we don't believe any of them will be yellow and black. We can always dream.

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